TUBACHRISTMAS concert set Dec. 17 in Spring Valley

Annual holiday concert returns for 8th year in Illinois Valley

The eighth annual TubaChristmas in the Illinois Valley is scheduled 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at Hall High School, 800 W. Erie St., Spring Valley.

The eighth annual TUBACHRISTMAS in the Illinois Valley is scheduled 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at Hall High School, 800 W. Erie St., Spring Valley.

Register to play by calling Music Suite 408 at 815-223-4408 or downloading materials at 408fineartsfactory.com under Special Events caption. Walk-ins are welcome. Music is available for purchase.

Registration for players is 12:30 p.m. with a rehearsal from 1 to 3 p.m. and a free concert open to the public at Hall High School Auditorium. The concert is sponsored by Music Suite 408, North Central Illinois ARTworks and Starved Rock Country Community Foundation. The public is asked to bring nonperishable food items to the concert to restock the Hall Township and Illinois Valley food pantries.

TUBACHRISTMAS is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Created by tubist Harvey Phillips, of Indiana University, concerts this year will be presented in more than 300 cities throughout the U.S. and several countries. Performances feature Christmas carols especially arranged for tubas, sousaphones, baritones and euphoniums. Participants of all ages are encouraged to wear festive attire and decorate their instruments in honor of the season and these noble instruments. The warm, rich sound of the tuba-euphonium choir has won the ears and hearts of audiences, making TUBACHRISTMAS an established Christmas tradition in many cities throughout the world.

The program will leave an empty chair in memory of Antone Smania, of Oglesby, who was an advocate of music education in the Illinois Valley. Smania was the director of the Peru and Oglesby municipal bands until his passing on April 23, 1999. Music Suite 408 has acquired Smania’s Helicon tuba from his daughter, Barbara, and it will be at the concert.

This year’s conductor will be Ed Risinger who joined the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1997 as instructor of tuba and euphonium. He is the director of the Titan Band and technical coordinator for the School of Music. Risinger performed for four years with the U.S. Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. As a member of the Ceremonial Brass, he played with the Concert Band, Air Force Quintet and performed numerous times in the Chamber Players Concert Series. In addition, Risinger toured with the Air Force Band in Russia, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. He has performed with the Peoria Ballet, Peoria Symphony and the Illinois Symphony and has played throughout the Midwest and East Coast performing in area symphonies, brass quintets and as a soloist. He has served as clinician and adjudicator at several music camps and festivals, including ITEA and the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival.

Rex Benson will serve as concertmaster and emcee for this year’s event in the Illinois Valley. He received both his bachelor and master degrees in music education from Illinois State University, also serving as an undergraduate and graduate teaching assistant. He continued his education through course work at Aurora College and Vandercook School of Music. Benson retired after 25 years at Mendota High School. He has been an active member of the IHSA, IMEA, MENC, ASBDA, Phi Beta Mu and IEA-NEA.

His performance experience has included performing in the Illinois Valley Community College Wind Ensemble, Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Valley Brass Ensemble, Peoria Municipal Band, Prairie Wind Ensemble, King Bros. Circus Band and Mendota Brass Ensemble. He is an adjudicator at all levels, festival conductor and has given clinics at ISU and Illinois Wesleyan University. He resides with his wife, Christine Benson, in Ottawa.

Music Suite 408 is a community based enrichment center that provides quality music, art, foreign language (Spanish) and a host of community workshops, events and performances at a moderate price to students of all ages, ethnic and economic backgrounds.